Image Courtesy of UniglassPlus
The most important things in life are often overlooked and taken for granted.
This sums up just about every driver’s feelings about wiper blades. Yet they are the only instrument available to a driver on the road when it comes to clearing your windshield while driving. Wipers only serve one purpose and most drivers will take notice of their condition only once they fail. By then, it’s usually too late.
Imagine you are driving down the highway and freezing rain begins to create a layer of ice on your windshield because your wiper blades are too worn to wipe all of the water away. Your only option is to pull over as quickly and safely as possible.
Admittedly, windshield wipers aren’t as exciting as a car’s engine, its shape or even the tires. But they are vital for safe driving. We wanted to go further and explore this often-ignored car part to see how they work, when to change them and how to do it.
There are different types of Windshield Wiper Blades, and they each serve a different purpose.
Much like tires, there are different types of wiper blades that serve different purposes. These include:
Conventional Wiper Blades:
The most common type of wiper blade includes a spring-tensioned frame and a rubber blade. The blades have a metal spline – a rectangular key-like piece that fits into the grooves on the rubber. These are the blades that are typically installed by car manufacturers.
Winter Wiper Blades:
These have the same construction as conventional wiper blades, but are heavier and designed to wipe away snow and freezing rain.
Sometimes referred to as bracketless blades, these do not have an external frame and instead consist of a single piece of rubber with a metal spring imbedded within the rubber. The spring allows the blade to wrap around a curved windshield with even pressure, resulting in a smoother wiping motion that clears more. The trade-off is that a good-quality beam blade will cost a bit more than a conventional wiper blade.
How do I know when it’s time to change my wiper blades?
Do your wipers leave behind streaks after turning them on? Then it’s time to change the blades.
Do your blades lift up and skip when driving at higher speeds? Then it’s time to change the blades.
Is there a loud squeaking when the blades are in use, even when the windshield is wet? Time to change your blades!
The most obvious visual cue to tell you it’s time to change your blades is the rubber. If the edges are rounded instead of square, it’s time to change them.
If you notice any major cracks in the rubber blade, they’ve done their job for as long as they could. You can also test their elasticity by seeing if they flex back into shape. If they seem tired and don’t snap back like they used to, it’s time for a change. And course, if you notice any rust or corrosion along the arm where the blade connects, switch them up.
How often should I change my wiper blades?
The rule of thumb has always been: Check your blades every six months and change them once a year. Of course, if you see there’s a major problem with them and they’re not clearing rain or snow effectively, go ahead and change them.
How do I change my wiper blades?
This is a guide for everyone currently standing in their driveway wondering where to begin when changing their wiper blades. This guide will break it down step-by-step.
Step 1: Removing the Old Wiper Blades
This step may require a screwdriver and hammer for some people. Your windshield wiper blades will either be attached using a hook or a pin and lock.
For a hook setup, lift the wiper blade off of the windshield and flip the blade backwards. Pull the blade up towards you (gently) and it should detach from the hook. If there’s rust on the metallic hook, spray a little WD-40 on it and tap it gently with a hammer or mallet to detach it.
With a pin and lock setup, you’ll need a screwdriver to lift up the plastic snap lock that holds the blade to the arm (it will be found on top, where the blade connects to the arm). Lift the blade off of the pin it rests on and voila, you’re good to go.
Step 2: Installing the New Wiper Blades
Keep in mind that when you’re purchasing your wiper blades, you’ll need to buy the right size. A quick referral to your owner’s manual should give you the sizes you’ll need.
The reason wiper blades are sold separately instead of as a set is because one will often be longer than the other. When installing them, make sure you have the right length for both the driver’s side and the passenger’s side.
With a hook setup, slide the blade until you hear it click. For the pin and lock setup, set the blade onto the pin and make sure the clamp is locked down to keep it secure.
When you pass your new wipers across your windshield for the first few times, squeaking is normal. The noise should disappear after a day or two (depending on how often you use your wipers).
Image Courtesy of UniglassPlus
Tips for Maintaining your wiper blades.
To get the most out of your wiper blades, here are a few tips to extend their usable life:
1. Don’t scrape ice using your wiper blades. Use an ice scraper.
2. Compare wiper blades online before buying. Price doesn’t always equal quality. Buy your wiper blades from a store or auto glass centre you trust that carries certified products.
3. Wipe down your wiper blades every few weeks to keep them clean and to prevent scratching.
4. Don't raise your wiper blades during snowfall, hail or freezing rain. Heavy winds can cause the blades to snap down and cause damage to the windshield, or pull the blades backwards and cause damage to the mechanism.
5. Try to avoid leaving your car in direct sunlight. The UV rays break down the rubber and plastic on the blades.
6. Clean your windshield regularly to remove debris that breaks down the rubber.
Although wiper blades are usually an afterthought, they’re essential for keeping your view clear so that your car stay safe on the road. Follow these tips and you should have no problem.
For more information about wiper blades, windshields and other car maintenance tips, visit the UniglassPlus website today.